When Marvel laid out a two film per year schedule last summer after the success of Iron Man, it all seemed so impressive. These guys had a plan. Fortunately, they still have a plan, and news today suggests that it is to make movies that could actually be good, and not simply crank out product to fit a pre-determined release date.

We’ve all been wondering how the hell Kenneth Branagh and Marvel could make a decent Thor movie to meet the planned 2010 release date. Answer is: they can’t, so it is moving. Once slated for July 16, 2010, Thor will now drop the hammer on June 17, 2011.

There’s a ripple effect: Captain America and The Avengers are moving as well. Cap only drops back a few weeks, from May 6 to July 22, 2011. Avengers goes from July 15, 2011 to May 4, 2012. So the team picture is now among the first big summer movies for ’12. More to the point, how will that affect the scripts for the two movies? Once planned to bookend the summer of ’11, they’re now a year apart. Will Marvel rely on DVD to keep Cap’s story fresh so the team picture can immediately pick up the thread, or use a flashback to refresh audience memory, or change the approach altogether?

In all this, only Iron Man 2 remains in place: you’ll see it on May 7 of next year, as planned. Get to work, Mr. Favreau.

One final date reveal: Sony’s Spider-Man 4 now has a release date: May 6, 2011, the date formerly occupied by Captain America.

Here’s the handy chart.

Iron Man 2                                             May 7, 2010 (as planned)
Thor                                                        June 17, 2011
Captain America: The First Avenger    July 22, 2011
The Avengers                                         May 4, 2012
Spider-Man 4 (from Sony)                    May 6, 2011